By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
If you ask Suzanne Broad what the most important back to school item is, her answer may surprise you. It isn’t a pack of pens or notebook paper. It is a bed.
The founder and executive director of Sweet Dream Makers said she sees a spike in the need for beds for families who are sleeping on the floor, on couches or sharing one bed rise just before the kids go back to school.
While there are back-to-school bashes that give out backpacks filled with school supplies, she said the essential item of a bed is not often considered as something kids need to be successful in school.
“The need for beds is critical and staggering,” Broad said. “The goal is to get children and families off the floor and into a bed.”
The Boca-based nonprofit works with Palm Beach County families in need to provide new beds, bedding and also furniture. Broad’s team works quickly, too. When she receives a request for a bed from one of the 40 social service agencies Sweet Dream Makers works with, she works to get a bed into the home within 48 hours. All families receiving items from Sweet Dream Makers come in via a referral from a case worker.
And after years of filling her “Boca pick up truck” a convertible with furniture and other necessities to deliver to families in need, she now has a 16-foot-delivery truck to help thanks to The Lou Bachrodt Auto Group.
The truck has been on the road for about a month and has already moved furniture from the Sweet Dream Makers’ warehouse to the homes of local families receiving assistance from the nonprofit.
“The truck is just enhancing all that we are doing,” Broad said. “Now that we have the truck, we can help families by delivering things immediately.”
Before, she said families would have to scrape together money to rent a moving truck or pay a friend with a big enough vehicle to help move large items. Now, they don’t have to worry about coming up with the money to move the items they need into their home.
COO and president of the Lou Bachrodt Auto Group Sean Bachrodt said he found out about Sweet Dream Makers from his friend, CEO of City Mattress Marc Schiller, who serves on the Sweet Dream Makers board.
So, he got to working outfitting a custom truck for the nonprofit to use once he found out that they needed a truck.
“It sounded like a phenomenal program,” Bachrodt said. “We are delighted to partner with Sweet Dream Makers to help these families get the things they need to sleep better tonight and have a better tomorrow.”
Broad said she was “over the moon with excitement” when she found out Bachrodt was donating a brand new truck for their use.
The truck isn’t the only back-to-school gift Sweet Dream Makers received. The Sokol Foundation has provided a matching grant to help the organization raise a total of $50,000.
The $50,000 would help 200 students get off the floor and sleeping into a bed by the end of September.Donations between now and Sept. 30th will be matched dollar for dollar by the foundation, up to $25,000.
It costs about $250 to help one recipient receive a new bed with bedding delivered to their home. The children choose the type of bedding they want.
Most of the time, these children haven’t had the opportunity to pick out something for themselves.
“Its a simple pleasure,” Broad said.
The requests for beds tend to spike beginning in July, Broad said. She has been helping families since 2012, but has been keeping records since Sweet Dream Makers officially became its own nonprofit three years ago.
About 1,800-2,000 beds are donated to Palm Beach County families annually. From Jan. 1, 2017-July 31 of this year, the group has delivered 3,546 beds.
While donated beds and bedding is always purchased new, Sweet Dream Makers will accept used furniture in good condition from Boca and Delray homes only.
The items donated are always offered to families in need at no charge.
“What’s more important than helping a family with basic necessities?” Broad said. “You can change a child’s life overnight.”
To support Sweet Dream Makers’ Back to School Campaign, visit www.sweetdreammakers.org
Save the date for the nonprofit’s 2nd Annual Pajama Game Night at St. Andrews Country Club from 6:30-10 p.m. on Oct. 15. Round up your team, wear your pajamas, and play your favorite game to raise money to buy beds for local children and families in need. Tickets $55 at SweetDreamMakers.org or 561-571-SDM3.